Hey folks, Harry here... Paramount hasn't been very lucky on AICN recently... The test screenings on THE STEPFORD WIVES and MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE have been met with very cold and harsh criticism here. Then having to move SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW to September... well, that has left Paramount with a fairly tepid Summer release schedule... Well... Long term AICN Spy... Derek Flint went to a screening on the Paramount Lot last night that apparently blew him away. It's the remake of ALFIE starring Jude Law, and from the sound of it... Jude is amazing in the film. Now, watch out with Derek's review... he gets incredibly descriptive and plot spoilerish, but damn if I'm not actually excited to see this remake, and I love the Michael Caine original. Here ya go...
Harry, the Paramount movie they previewed wasn't the Jude Law movie we thought -- but it was the first screening of what I think will remembered as the defining role of Jude Law's career. The movie I saw tonight was pretty fucking great with the hottest woman you'll see on any cinema screen. This has got me pretty pumped. I bet that you love this movie as much as me...
My review begins here...
Hey Harry, sorry I haven't written lately but I haven't been able to get into any recruited screenings for a while. It's sure a whole new deal when they recruit now, as they warn you that any attempt to bring in cameras or recording equipment will get you thrown in a Turkish prison. Thankfully, the same doesn't apply to writing Internet reviews ... yet.
A lot of remakes have been coming out and a lot more are in the future, especially from Paramount. "The Stepford Wives," "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Alfie" are just a few. And while I think unoriginality is a crime and am not a fan of remakes in general, with the recent exception of "The Italian Job," I do think I've easily seen one of the best movies of the year tonight that also happens to be a remake of another Michael Caine sixties flick.
It's not so much a remake as a reinvention, with a truly brilliant actor creating his own version of a classic role, just like "Hamlet" or "James Bond," and bringing his personal interpretation to a new generation to enjoy.
This evening I saw the first ever showing of "Alfie," which is apparently still not officially the title, and it was held at the Pacific Paseo multiplex here in Pasadena, California.
We were put in a very small theater that allowed me to really feel the audience's response to the films throughout. The audience was really, really into this flick and totally into it's star: Jude Law.
"Alfie" is the ultimate date movie. For a major studio release with name actors, the sex gets pretty hot for a mainstream movie and I could feel the women in the audience respond to everything Jude Law did on screen. He had them hypnotized, probably real wet.
I've only seen the classic Michael Caine version of "Alfie" once, but I can tell that this "Alfie" borrows very little from it in the sense that it's totally rooted in today's sensibilities (with two glaring exceptions that I'll mention later) and will definitely be rated R. A hard R.
There's not a lot of political correctness in this movie and I hope the studio doesn't try and tone it down or change it out of fear. This is about a man who has a singular purpose with women, he wants only one thing only from them, and makes no apologies for it.
Jude Law's Alfie is a transplanted Brit living and working in New York. He speaks directly to the camera throughout the whole film and Law manages to truly seem like he's talking exclusively to you in your theater seat. You feel like you truly know this dude and that he's confiding his whole life to you. It's both amazing and cool, as he offers all his secrets to seduction step by step, as well as his personal philosophy about women and life.
In a nutshell, Alfie is a real life "Austin Powers" and Law's over the top, intense sex appeal makes this completely and totally believable. You could see it as women, of all ages, in the theater squirmed in excitement during the seduction scenes.
Guys will bring dates to this movie and Jude Law will do them all a favor by seducing them from the screen, getting them hot and bothered and ready for relief. That's how powerful Jude Law is in this role. He makes "Gigolo Joe" from "A.I." seem like a Trappist monk.
The character of Alfie boffs more women than Bob Crane in "Auto Focus" and there's not a skank in the bunch. Alfie is into Maxim and FHM type babes, which makes a very easy movie for all us young dudes to watch.
Alfie has honed the ability to shag any woman on earth. If he can't get her at first, he will figure out how and succeed. He's very different from Hugh Grant in another movie I loved, "About A Boy," in the fact that he isn't rich and is strictly working class, but he wants to ascend and become somebody. The problem is, he doesn't know what to do with his life. In fact, that's what he keeps asking throughout the movie: "What's it all about?"
Alfie works as a limo driver, which also gives him access to rich ladies as well as "Girls Gone Wild" types that go clubbing at night. His manners, charm and British accent has women begging to fuck him. Perhaps the biggest laugh in the movie came as a very hot Jane Krakowski rode him in the back seat of his stretch limo. She's having an orgasm as Alfie nonchalantly talks to the camera, hands behind his head, about how a certain American President must have enjoyed this position in the back-seat of a car. It's a classic moment.
Imagine a James Bond movie with Sean Connery where he'd occasionally speak right to you and let you in on his secrets. If you can, then you have something close to how "Alfie" sometimes plays.
Despite all his literal screwing around on the job, Alfie is involved with a single mother played by Marisa Tomei. She knows Alfie better than the other women that he seduces, well aware of his faults and always calling him on his bullshit, but she's enchanted by him anyway.
Even when she's pissed at him, Tomei still succumbs to his charms as he gently unbuttons her jeans to see whether or not she's wearing briefs or a thong (which thankfully you get to see). The key is Alfie is never a shit to women. He loves them in his own way, but only while he's with them.
Alfie is a little boy -- and that also explains why he bonds with Tomei's young son who adores him. Whenever Alfie plays with the kid, you can see that he's wondering what it would be like to commit to this woman and perhaps have his own child by her.
Working at the limo company, Alfie's best friend is a dude named Marlon, played by Omar Epps. Epps is good in the part, although I kept thinking about how Mos Def or somebody younger would have been better because Alfie plays a mentor to him. Still, they made it work for the movie. You care about Epps and believe they're friends.
Epps' character is in a troubled relationship with his on again, off again girlfriend played by a stunning Nia Long. Since Alfie's the expert on females and also Epps' best pal in the world, he volunteers to try to help, playing intermediary.
Long works as a bartender. Alfie has an after hours talk with her as she's closing. She's tough and defiant about discussing her personal life, but Alfie is just too cool to resist. He and Nia Long's character shoot pool and play a game where they take turns naming things they've each never done in life, trying to top one another. (One of Nia Long's confessions is not having seen a James Bond movie, which Law reacts to as if it's a sin.)
The conversation turns lascivious as they discuss past sexual exploits and she starts getting aggressive. (The key to nailing any female bartender seems to stay with her after hours, as she closes, based on this scene.)
Jude Law grapples with the situation but cannot resist Epp's girl, even though it's his best friend's girlfriend he's nailing, and boffs her right there on the pool table. The way the scene is directed is inspired, all slow dissolves with really cool music, including an amazing shot of Nia Long's perfect legs wrapping around Law as all the balls on the pool table roll around them.
Now, one thing I did find odd about this contemporary "Alfie" is the subject of condoms never come up. Not even once. You get the idea that he always rides bareback, especially because of some of the key plot developments that occur which I won't reveal.
There's also a portion of the film where Alfie suffers impotence, including a visit to a weird doctor specializing in erectile dysfunction who acts a bit like Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man," where Viagra isn't mentioned as a treatment.
It seemed odd not to bring it up, no pun intended, or discuss Cialis as a remedy. After all, this is an update. This patch of the story is pretty funny and does have one amazing scene where Alfie tries to have a threesome with two hot FHM girls and can't get it up -- forcing him to sit it out as the two chicks continue on without him. Jude Law's expression brought the house down.
"Alfie" is a funny movie, but it's also incredibly dramatic and moving, even intense.
There are moments when the camera simply holds on Jude Law's face as he undergoes the realization that his fantasy "Rat Pack lifestyle," as he calls it, is starting to deteriorate.
Law's acting is superb. "Alfie" is the role that will define Jude Law with moviegoers around the world.
One example of Law's assurance in this roles happens at a nightclub where a jealous girl mutters something like "What do women see in that Euro-trash?" Alfie hears this and locks eyes with the girl, slowly giving her the most seductive smile you've ever seen that gradually makes her melt. Jude Law does it all without saying a word. All the CGI in the world can't create a moment like this, only a great actor. (And it should be mentioned that the direction of this movie hits the mark big time. It's very fast paced with a lot of quick visuals and montages. The director, Charles Shyer, is not the safe guy who made conservative flicks like "Father of the Bride" and seems out to reinvent himself. He succeeds.)
As Alfie turns introspective, the two most important women in his life come into play that lead him to his ultimate ephifany.
First, he meets a gorgeous party girl, in the Paris Hilton mold, portrayed in a breakout performance by Sienna Miller.
Sienna Miller will be the new "It" girl, she first caught my eye on the short-lived TV show "Keen Eddie," but she's much more than a hot chick like Brittany Daniel, who I lusted after in "Club Dread." Miller is truly a great actress. She plays a girl named Nicky who perfectly matches Alfie's appetite for fun and sex ... so Alfie decides to commit, for once in his life, and allows her to move in -- with disastrous, even frightening results.
Miller's Nicky starts off as the sort of tweaked girlfriend Jerry Seinfeld would do a whole episode about, but her problems turn out to be no joke. She's dangerously bipolar and almost ruins Alfie's life. Miller's scenes pretty much guarantee this movie an R rating, especially as she continually tries to make amends with Alfie by dropping all her clothes and offering him instant sex. After a while, even he stops taking. He needs to break free, but fears what she might do to herself... or him.
After that, Alfie becomes a personal driver to a rich society woman played by Susan Sarandon, who's also not afraid to show her body which still looks pretty fucking great, and the two of them start selfishly using each other. She wants a hot lover to take her mind off her tired old husband, while Alfie wants to move up in society by having her sponsor him.
Sarandon is perfect in the role ... and it was especially UN-PC to have her offer Alfie a crack pipe when he first visits her penthouse apartment. (He takes a hit, by the way.)
While Alfie has used women all his life, Sarandon is the first to turn the tables on our boy, sucking him dry before callously casting him aside for some nameless male model we see in the background, leaving Alfie devastated.
Out of desperation, Alfie tries to revisit all his past conquests, like a drowning man clawing for a life raft, but finds that his charms are now failing him.
Alfie's no fool. He knows he's got to finally commit to Marisa Tomei before it's too late ... but isn't sure whether or not it is, because she made it clear that she wasn't waiting for him and was ready to move on.
The movie "Alfie" doesn't pull any punches and does the character no favors. This movie has balls and I really hope they don't tone it down. I was surprised to see a lot of this stuff in a studio movie that will probably wind up being advertised as a romantic comedy, but this ain't "How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days." No fucking way.
It's a testament to Law's superb acting that he makes his eventual realization that Alfie's "boy toy" days are numbered such a heartbreaking and truly tragic moment. You're rooting for him to get his act together because Alfie's not mean spirited, just immature.
Jude Law delivers a soul searching monologue near the end of the movie that feels like "to be or not to be" time as he tries to figure "What's it all about?" It was mesmerizing. Based on the teary eyes some of the women had when the lights came up, it's a safe bet that Jude Law will get yet another Oscar nomination for playing "Alfie." I hope he wins.
I've read how the studios are worried that they haven't had any big hits in a while, especially Paramount whose had a recent string of high profile losers, so they should be thankful that Jude Law in "Alfie" will save not only their jobs, but studio moviemaking as well.
I hope they release the movie just like it is and don't tack a crappy happy ending on. The movie ended on a hopeful note, with the classic song playing in the background, and that was enough for me.
I also hope after "Alfie" makes a bundle that they don't do a sequel. Leave it to our imaginations to wonder just how Alfie winds up. I have my own idea and I like having it.
Charles Shyer's "Alfie" starring Jude Law is easily the best studio movie I've seen Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River." It gives people a reason not to wait for the DVD.
Trust me, you'll want to take a date.